While Rockport Group’s plans for the Postal Station K site will transform the surrounding area, the actual historic limestone building will remain largely intact according to a preliminary design released by the developer.
Rockport CEO Jack Winberg says the company is calling its project Montgomery Square, a nod to the site’s history as the original location of the Montgomery Tavern, William Lyon Mackenzie’s headquarters during the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion.
He says there is no question the recent protests brought the site’s legacy to Rockport’s attention, but says it immediately embraced the notion of preserving its historical integrity.
“We think our plan makes a very substantial contribution to the public realm,” he says. “At the moment there’s a lot of concrete pillars and planters that don’t really open the site up…. So we’re going to do that.”
The current station includes two buildings: a beautiful two-storey limestone structure out front and a one-storey brick distribution centre in the back.
The limestone structure boasts a sizable forecourt, which Winberg says Rockport will develop as an open public space.
“We’re going to completely renovate the front of the building, try to bring it back to the original architectural flavour,” he says. “We’ll restore the limestone, and hopefully make it a retail space where people can continue to enjoy the forecourt, and also the inside of the building.”
The developers plan to demolish the distribution centre and replace it with a 26-storey residential tower, which will be attached to the heritage building with a four-storey glass atrium.
“We hope it will be seen as a very beautiful tower that will pick up the highlights of the limestone and the heritage aspects of the old post office,” Winberg says. “We can’t pretend it won’t have any impact on Yonge or on our neighbours, but we thought it would all fit together very well.”
He doesn’t know yet what type of commercial tenant will take up residence on the site.
“We’re talking to the business community to see just what kind of uses will find that space attractive,” Winberg says. “We’re hoping that some combination of restaurants or high-end retail would take advantage of the site’s uniqueness.”
Because the sale of the site hasn’t been finalized Ward 16 councillor Karen Stintz says the city hasn’t yet received any redevelopment plans.
“We don’t have any jurisdiction until it gets transferred into private hands,” she says. “We’ve expressed our intention to designate the building as historically significant and the developer has accepted that’s our intent and is working within that framework.”
Stintz says the building will continue to operate as a post office until the area’s new postal facility, also being developed by Rockport, is built in Leaside in the next year and a half.
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